DOE’s Digital Duct Tape

Digital Duct Tape

There are roughly 136,000 employees that work within the NYC Department of Education. I believe it is safe to say that every single one has an email account like In fact so do all the investigators working at the Special Commissioner of Investigation. There is one exception. One employee that does not. That employee Francesco Portelos. Me.

For over a year, the powers that be decided I was talking too much, sending too many emails, asking about policy, violations and my wrongful reassignment. So what did they do They disabled my official DOE email account. Not only did they disable my account, but they actually went ahead and removed it from the system. Current employees can go into the DOE Outlook system and look. There is no Francesco Portelos. I have come across some teachers alleged to have committed serious allegations. They had full access to their email.

Not only did they disable my email account, but blocked me from accessing payroll portal. I can’t access my payroll stubs or make changes to my direct deposit. I can’t access my retirement system, nor any city employee site. I called formerExecutive Director of HR, Andrew Gordon in May 2012 when this first occurred. The conversation went something like this:

Ring, Ring.

Gordon: “Andy Gordon…”
Portelos: “Yes, good morning Mr. Gordon. This is Francesco Portelos. How are you”
Gordon: (pause)
Portelos: “Hello”
Gordon: “Yes Mr. Portelos”
Portelos: “Mr. Gordon, I just realized I do not have access to my email or payroll portal.”
Gordon: “Yes, that is correct.”
Portelos: “Why is that”
Gordon: “I can’t discuss it, but it is due to the investigations.”
Portelos: “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what investigations have to do with me accessing my payroll.”
Gordon: “I cannot discuss. I am sorry. Have a good day” (Click)

So there you go. You can check the Investigations and Allegations against me to see which one revolves around payroll, retirement and DOE email. I couldn’t find one, nor was I ever questioned about it. It was basically the DOE’s Digital Duct Tape. BTW, did you know a fast way to get to DOE email is by typing

It doesn’t end there though. They cut a few more pieces of duct tape…

I started using my account. I continued sending emails to many employees from the top to the bottom. So what did they do next They actually went ahead and put that private email address into a DOE global block filter. What does that mean It means that for over a year when I try and email anyone with a account it never reaches the recipient. Not only that, but I never receive an error so as to give the illusion that my email went through. Going back and forth with my supervisor at the time was fun. “I sent the email to you yesterday.” “I didn’t get it.” “I’ll send it again.” “I still didn’t get it.”

I spoke to DOE’s DIIT to resolve this. The tech on the phone did not know who I was at first.

“Sir, you are probably accidentally in the spam folder of the user you are trying to email.”

“No, I’m telling you…anyone in the DOE will not receive my email. It’s in some Global Filter.”

“Well, only someone like the Chancellor can put in an order like that. I doubt that happened. Let me look into this and call you back.”

I never received a call back, so I called the same tech again a few times. He was quite nervous. Not sure what they told him exactly.

“Umm Mr. Portelos, I am sorry, but I cannot discuss this. You will have to speak to DOE lawyers. (click)”

That’s what I thought. Some of you non techies, may not realize the immense situation here. A public entity like the NYC Department of Education taking a personal account and putting in a filter that prevents the communication with 136,000 public employees is pretty intense…and very wrong. The situation was added to my Federal lawsuit.

Wait…it gets worse.

As if it wasn’t enough to disable, gov, payroll, retirement, adding to global filter block they want an additional step.

My school, Berta Dreyfus IS 49, has a website where everyone has an email address I had an account, but that was disabled even though I was elected Chapter Leader of the school. I have been Chapter Leader for over a year and was sending union related emails to the staff with my account. All of a sudden, that too was blocked within the school. I was prevented from communicating with my own members. This is a problem for many reasons. One of them was safety. Here is an email I sent to the AP of Security Joanne Aguirre. I sent it to


From:Mr. Portelos<>
Subject: Safety at School
Ms. Aguirre,
I’d like to go over the safety plan and certain protocol we want the staff to follow in line with the administration’s expectations. I hear the halls are getting out of hand again. We have landed on the Persistently Dangerous List for a second year in a row. We need to work together for the safety of everyone.
Francesco Portelos
IS 49 UFT Chapter Leader
The response I received was:
Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:
Technical details of permanent failure:
Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the server for the recipient [2a00:1450:400c:c05::1b].

The error that the other server returned was:
550-5.7.1 The user or domain that you are sending to (or from) has a policy that
550-5.7.1 prohibited the mail that you sent. Please contact your domain
550-5.7.1 administrator for further details. For more information, please visit
550 5.7.1 – gsmtp

Who took over for Andrew Gordon when he left for NYU Katherine Rodi. I tried to speak to her as well as attorney Marisol Vazquez about this. They told me they would look into. It was never resolved. I’m sure this goes all the way up past Robin Singer, past Robin Greenfield and to the office of Tracy Cooney and Courtenaye Jackson-Chase at General Counsel.
“Mr. Portelos, did you inform the UFT about these blocks to your email access”
Yes………over a year ago.
You have enemies Good. That means you stood for something.” -Winston Churchill

About Francesco Portelos

Parent and Educator fighting for the student and the teacher.
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  1. Gordon is a tool. You should have seen him sweat when I told him I had everything he said on a recording. 🙂

    David Suker

  2. Pingback: How to “Hack” the DOE Payroll Portal and Give Yourself a Raise | Educator Fights Back

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